Artisans of the World
For many countries, cultural identity is largely defined by the crafts their artisans have taken to uncommon levels of mastery. Think French cheese or Italian shoes. In this summer’s issue, we spotlight some of the less familiar: guitar makers and other artisans in Mexico; an ancient textile operation still working in Italy; an indigenous woolens crusader in Argentina; an uncommon rug maker in India; and a master of soufflès.
Deep in San Francisco’s storied North Beach neighborhood, Jacqueline Margulis has been making soufflès for her café’s customers five nights a week for nearly 40 years. Our story—and mini-documentary—on the only restaurant in the U.S. that specializes solely on this challenging but famously scrumptious symbol of French cuisine.
Film by PHOEBE RUBIN
Story by TODD OPPENHEIMER
When a Disney film, “Coco,” spotlighted a small Mexican town where almost every shop makes guitars, it suddenly made ornate, white guitars famous. Underneath the new pop icon, however, lies a variety of much finer instruments—and a rich craft going back generations.
Story by LAURA FRASER
Photography and videography by ANDREW SULLIVAN
In the 1500s, a Spanish bishop turned a collection of pueblos around the Mexican town of Patzcuaro into a center for craftsmanship. The people here are still making and marketing their wares in much the same way they did hundreds of years ago. Now they have to overcome tourists’ fears about drug traffickers, real or not.
Story by LAURA FRASER
Photography by JANET JARMAN
Only a handful of artisans still practice the centuries-old craft of rust printing on fabric. Of those who do, even fewer use the traditional stone mangle, or press, on handwoven, raw hemp fabric, yielding textiles that can last for centuries. The Marchi family printworks, in Italy’s Romagna region, may well be the only place left in the world that still produces authentic, rust-printed textiles that are fully handmade.
Story and Film by LUISA GROSSO
Nand Kishore Chaudhary has built one of India’s most successful handmade carpet ventures by forging close ties to a community that most businesses on the continent shun: the poor, largely uneducated caste of citizens long referred to as “Untouchables.” To help his business grow, he’s also had to develop an apprenticeship system around India’s chronic battles with child labor. To Chaudhary, navigating these issues is the only way to honor the true meaning of sustainability. During a visit to the Jaipur Rugs company, our correspondent tries to figure out how all these pieces come together.
By CATHRYN JAKOBSON RAMIN
Amidst the fashion world’s growing interest in the luxuriously soft fabric that can be made from South American camelids like alpaca, one member of this family with uncommonly fine fleece has been largely ignored: the guanaco, the alpaca’s feisty cousin. Enter Adriana Marina, who is fighting for the guanaco’s place on the commercial stage.
By ALDEN WICKER